The Write Bite!Posted by Ariel Warshaw
Kicking off our Writing Seminar, fifth graders were asked to find inspiration using their five senses. How can we describe what we’re hearing? How does that caterpillar feel in our palm? Can you describe the sound of the wind? What does that freshly pickled onion do to your taste buds? What about that velvety caramel?
Writers enjoyed two different sensory experiences. Our first Sensory Write invited students outside to experience their craft al fresco! Students sat in our garden, perched on tree stumps, strolled along the babbling brook, and enjoyed a quiet moment on Mrs. Shannon’s Bridge. In each of these places, they documented the sensations they experienced. Some students snacked on just-picked bell peppers, while others munched on mint. They wrote about the various flavors they encountered and the memories they conjured up. Others watched butterflies flutter on the coneflowers, and created tales about what flight might feel like for those winged creatures.
Our second Sensory Write took place in the Unquowa Kitchen! Chef Jess prepared tasting platters for the students, filled with flavors that both enticed and challenged. What are the perfect words for describing an apple? How can we stretch our descriptions to better illustrate what we are sensing? Is that dip creamy and tantalizing, or bland and slimy? The fifth grade writers loved describing unexpected flavor combinations, too! How would you describe a corn chip slathered in caramel sauce? Is what you are tasting or smelling stirring a storyline?
Both sensory writing experiences opened up a conversation around showing, rather than telling, our readers about what we are sensing. Students considered the perfect words to capture each authentic moment. These skills will spiral throughout our year together in Writing Seminar, and will serve us well as we move on to our narrative writing unit.
Working Together on the River!Posted by Lloyd Mitchell
Our 7th and 8th graders kicked off the school year with the 5th annual opening rafting trip! Students ventured up to Charlemont, Massachusetts, geared up for rafting and rowed down 7 miles of Deerfield River with class 1,2 and 3 rapids. While many were nervous on the way up, it was all smiles on the way back. This opening trip sets the tone for the year and this year looks to be fantastic!
January ExplorationsPosted by Mary Curran
January has been a very busy month in the Early Childhood Explorations Lab! PreK-4 students investigated narcissus and amaryllis bulbs with hand lenses and predicted the number of blooms that our amaryllis will have. They will continue to make weekly observations as our “winter garden” of bulbs grows. In addition, students learned that all animals make tracks. Using tracking plates and molds, they enjoyed making impressions of deer, raccoon, squirrel and even bobcat tracks in kinetic sand and playdoh. Students also created winter habitats for forest animals using loose parts like natural blocks, cotton balls, colored felt squares and stones.
Reader, Author, TextPosted by George Seferidis
In our humanities classes, we guide our students to read slowly, closely, and deeply. We learn to value each other’s interpretations, aware that the joy of reading lies also in the layers of meaning, the interplay of ideas between readers and the text.
This winter, our 7th and 8th graders had an incredible opportunity to add another layer of complexity to the conversation–the author. On December 5th, Marjorie Agosín, the renowned poet and professor at Wellesley College, came to discuss her novel, I Lived on Butterfly Hill, with the students. Her coming-of-age novel has served as a pivotal text in engaging our students to grow as readers. Set in the vibrant city of Valparaiso, Chile, during a military coup, the protagonist character, Celeste, must flee her native land to seek political asylum in the United States. Through her journey of survivorship and self-discovery, Celeste becomes an agent of change for her community.
Agosín’s much-anticipated visit offered students an opportunity to discuss the questions they generated throughout their reading and during class discussions. Together, they shared interpretations of the text, asked poignant questions about Dr. Agosín’s process, and were exultant in learning that the sequel would soon be released. Our 2-hour exchange clearly demonstrated our students’ knowledge, maturity, and sophistication. In fact, Dr. Agosín said to them, “This is the beauty of literature. Because I think one thing, and you interpreted it, and it goes beyond what I see.” As our discussion came to a close, Dr. Agosín shared her collection of arpilleras, tapestries made by Chilean revolutionaries fighting against censorship and the oppression, which she has been collecting since 1974. With reverence, our students understood in real time what they were seeing: real evidence of that which they had experienced through text. It was a rare, unforgettable moment– experiencing the gift of literature unfolding before our eyes–the creation of meaning and connection between reader, author, and text.
Third Grade GeologistsPosted by Mary Curran
In November, third graders traveled to the CT Audubon for an inquiry based program on geology. They learned that igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic are three types of rocks, and that metamorphic is the most common type of rock found in CT. Third graders worked in collaborative groups and used their investigative skills to gather data about various rocks and minerals. Students observed color and luster, performed tests on hardness and streak and used field guides to identify the type of rock or mineral. Our program continued outside with a hike in the Larsen Sanctuary. Various rocks and minerals were observed along the way, and students used outdoor kits to determine their hardness and streak color. Thank you to the CT Audubon for providing third graders with an engaging introduction to geology and a full morning of hands-on activities.
Layers of the Earth in Clay…and then IRL!Posted by wenyiche
The theme of sixth grade science is Earth Science. As an introduction, students made models of earth out of clay using different colors for different layers. They started with inner core, then added the outer core and mantle finished with a blue and green crust as the outer layer. Once their models were complete, they cut them in half to see all the layers.
We then visited Mianus River Gorge Preserve which is a quarry to examine some of the layers that make up the crust in real life! We hiked and had the chance to examine several minerals – quartz, mica, feldspar. What a nice way to take advantage of a sunny, fall day!